Have a calm time experiencing the philosophy of George Nakashima, who lived with wood. /George Nakashima Memorial Hall (Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa)

Do you know about George Nakashima, who was a world-famous furniture designer?

George Nakashima Memorial Hall

You can see and get to know Nakashima’s works, and his way of thinking or philosophy at the “George Nakashima Memorial Hall.”
It was established by “Sakura Seisakusho” in 2008.
Sakura Seisakusho has been producing the furniture of Nakashima as a partner for a long time.
Nakashima’s works are renowned worldwide.

There are only 2 factories are still producing his genuine products. One is a studio in New Hope, Pennsylvania, in the U.S., and the other is Sakura Seisakusho in Japan.

The inside of the building is just like a museum of furniture, and around 65 works of Nakashima are displayed.
The guide staff told us about Nakashima’s philosophy towards craftsmanship.
“One of his passions was “reading wood’s mind:” “Wood is breathing the air with moisture, and wood is slightly moving,” he said, “Wood is alive.” Nakashima’s mind was making and finishing furniture with function, design and the character of wood itself so that people would cherish it as the wood’s second life.”

George Nakashima, who lived with wood

George Nakashima born in the U.S. as a second generation Japanese American.
He studied forestry and architecture at university and took part in the work of architectural design worldwide.

However, he was disappointed by the architectural world and he decided to work on making furniture, as the whole process could be integrated entirely by himself.
He was taken into custody during World War II, but he learned basic techniques of carpentry as he met a Japanese-American carpenter inside of the internment camp.
His works are now also displayed at the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Arts.

Representative work of George Nakashima: “CONOID CHAIR”

This chair is called “CONOID CHAIR,” one of George Nakashima’s masterpieces, released in 1960.
The design is very characteristic of him, with the 2 legs.
Also, you will be surprised at how comfortable it is when you sit in it.
It is amazing how the curve of the backrest embraces your back, and you cannot feel any of the solidity of the wood.
You definitely will wonder why!

“Conoid” is the shape of the roof of Nakashima’s workshop, which is called “Conoid Studio.”
That means, CONOID CHAIR was adopted from the name of the architectural structure.
Now we understand one of Nakashima’s philosophies: “furniture is small, but it is still architecture.”

The table with “Chigiri,” the traditional way of woodworking

“Chigiri” is a piece of wood in the shape of a butterfly, used to join 2 boards together instead of nails.
This table made of 2 boards from the same tree next to each other is called a “book match table,” and using “Chigiri” to join these 2 boards for the tabletop was a very new and original design idea by Nakashima.

You can touch or sit in the original furniture produced by Sakura Seisakusho at the memorial hall.
So, please feel the craftsmanship which succeeded for a long time in producing this furniture.
You can also watch a documentary video shot in the U.S.

You can buy some wooden items at the gallery shop near the entrance.
The item in the photo above is one of the more popular products, a “Pen box” (6,800 yen excluding tax).
The Sakura Seisakusho craftsmen carve it from black walnut wood, and the shape, along with natural curves, reveals the warmth of the wood.
There are also various other kinds of items you can purchase.

The products here are not industrial products, but works made by craftsmen.
It is worth it to see them one by one.
You cannot feel the quality or the real fascination of the works from these photos, so please visit the memorial hall to see these masterpieces.

George Nakashima Memorial Hall
Address/1132-1, Omachi, Mure-cho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
Open/10:00~17:00 (Last admission: 16:30)
Admission fee/Adults 500 yen, Elementary school and high school students 200 yen (A discount for Groups with more than 20 people is available)
Closed/Sundays, National Holidays, the year-end and New Year holiday, and summer vacation
Parking lot/Available
Nearest stations/Kotoden Shioya Station, Kotoden Yakuri Shinmichi Station, and JR Sanuki-Mure Station

Photographs and text by Megumi Yamada

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Written by

Megumi Yamada

Megumi Yamada

Megumi Yamada Although I was born in Kagawa, after graduating high school I spent time in America, Kyoto, and East Timor, and now live in Kagawa again. I’m currently rediscovering the beauty of my hometown. I love to draw and take pictures.


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